When we talk about innovation, we can think of it in two ways. One is technological breakthroughs: cramming ever more pixels into ever smaller bandwidths, for example. The other is experiential breakthroughs: offering something that is nothing like what consumers experienced before. Where do 5G media innovations fit?
The promise of 5G
Over the past decade, evolutions in our industry have focused on experience: what we, as viewers, can enjoy. This is how streaming platforms created a breakthrough in the quite mature TV landscape. And 5G promises to take that experience to another level yet. Beyond merely letting us watch video, 5G enables content and service providers to engage more and better with their audiences, while also increasing content monetization.
How does it do that? Through low latency and high bandwidth. These enable content providers to engage directly with viewers; they also enable viewers to engage with the content.
5G media: A new dimension for the viewing experience
With 5G, the viewing experience takes on another dimension. It is no longer just about watching content: it is about making video part of a wider experience, linking the content you watch with social media, retail, and your community – and providing the interactivity and responsiveness that viewers are used to in these other platforms. This way, viewers can feel on-boarded with a story that is bigger than the content itself.
Personalizing the experience
One big driver of this overdrive direct-to-consumer engagement is the ability to personalize the experience. Currently, the offer is fragmented: there is too much content dispersed across too many services. One major frustration viewers face (and also one of the top four reasons for churn) is not finding what they want – or spending too much time looking for it. So imagine being able to reach viewers with the content they want, based on where they are (at home or commuting), the time of day (morning or lunch break), their preferences (sports or news), and the type of entertainment they ask for (augmented reality or just a show). With 5G, content suppliers can adjust their offering, the content itself, and the surrounding experience – leading to a win-win situation with viewers who are fully engaged with the content, and suppliers who see increased loyalty, reduced churn, and increased revenue.
The tech behind the 5G promise
The picture sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s now peek into what is happening behind the scenes to enable it. The main idea is Multi-access Edge Computing (aka MEC) based on two technology pillars of viewer engagement: efficient caching and just-in-time processing.
Why do we need MEC? Because on the one hand, we have demand for better and deeper engagement with viewers, who look for a personalized experience – a unicast, as a streaming media nerd like me would say. And on the other hand, we have a network which, even with all the means and investments we could ever imagine, is unlikely to scale to manage 8 billion different unicast (nerd!) consumptions. The way to reconcile the infinite demand with a capped bandwidth is to shift the computing closer to the user or device being used. Instead of processing everything from a central location (the multicast approach), we move the logic, intelligence, and processing closer to the end user. That way, the popular content in the right format at the right resolution can be smartly cached – or produced ‘’on-demand’’ at the edge, according to what that specific viewer is expected to watch.
5G is by default a meshed network with towers located all over the country or continent. We can make each of them an edge place for hosting smart caching and just-in-time-processing.
5G is clearly a paradigm shift for content experience. But its promises can become reality only if we change how we look at the workflow, processing and streaming delivery side of it.
Through its elastic CDN technology as well as its renowned processing and TV personalization capabilities, ATEME offers a complete solution to enable content providers and service providers to embrace 5G network capabilities – and offer their viewers an experience that is nothing like what they ever experienced before.